Home Concepts Best Practices Coaching in Organizations: A Status Report (Past, Present and Future)

Coaching in Organizations: A Status Report (Past, Present and Future)

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This coaching relationship would also, of course, include exploration of the client’s work life. In many instances, work life because the central focus of the coach’s work because their client was gaining much of their meaning-in-life from work and because the other domains in life seemed to be profoundly impacted by what occurred on the job. The training and past experiences of these “life-coaches” and, more broadly, “personal coaches” often did not prepare them for this organizational work. They encouraged their clients to follow their bliss, but were often not themselves quite sure what is the nature of organizational bliss and how one might follow it in an organizational setting.

There was a second group of professional coaches. Like Rachel, these coaches tended to come out of HR backgrounds or were organizational consultants. Many of these men and women had been marketing themselves as “organization development” consultants. Like the personal coaches, they found the field of professional coaching to be quite tempting both as a new way to package the services they were already offering and as a way to work more closely with individual clients in the challenging task of implementing a new organizational initiative. The problem is – as Rachel soon discovered—the client is hurting at an individual level. They want some help in reducing their personal stress. Not too many years ago, in The Culture of Pain, David Morris provided us with an insightful analysis regarding the nature and meaning of pain. He observed that prior to the discovery of analgesics (pain-killers), patients had to live with pain and therefore had to assign some meaning to the pain (a sign from God that one must lead a more virtuous life, a sign that something is indeed wrong with my leg and I have to have it examined by a doctor). Once the pain-killers became available (early 20th Century), patients wanted first-and-foremost an absence of pain. While the physician wanted to use the pain as a way to discover what was injured or diseased, the patient wanted the pain to go away.

A similar dilemma exists in the world of psychotherapy—the client comes to see a “shrink” so that she will hurt less (less depressed, less anxious, much happier). It will be great if a drug will do the trick. If not, then let’s do short-term symptom-oriented psychotherapy. To want extent are professional coaches caught in the same dilemma: do I help my client reduce his stress or do I encourage him to address the sources of this stress – which may initially actually increase stress for my client? Sam may initially have to work even harder and spend even more week-ends at the office or at his home computer in order to resolve some of the problems he is confronting. How will Marnie feel if Sam’s work/life balance is initially worst than it is today?

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